Why hello there! Welcome back to The Amazing Race, possibly the best reality show out there. Now, I’m certain you’ve noticed that I am not your regular recapper, and you would be correct. You may be thinking, “Wait a minute! You’re not Cali! What is this new devilry? I demand a refund!” Don’t fret, my friends. I am merely filling in for my friend, Cali, this week while she takes on some real-life business. If you still want a refund, I can gladly reimburse you. John recently gave all of us writers a 300% raise. (Such gracious percentage raises are but one benefit of volunteer work.) Now, let’s see what Phil and the gang are up to this time. . . .
Last week, the teams arrived in Calcutta, India, which marked the end of the ninth leg of the race. This week, they travel 7,000 miles to the city of Auckland in beautiful New Zealand—the home of the Maori, the kiwi, and the Hobbit. From Auckland, they must drive 220 miles to the town of Rotorua, where they find the Detour clue as well as the poor, neglected Yield. The Detour is a choice between “Clean” and “Dirty,” which, as Phil tells us, is what the teams are going to become. Clean, the quicker and scarier task, involves sledging (a New Zealand adventure sport which is much like boogie-boarding) down a river of rushing rapids, while Dirty is the slow and blah task--searching through a big, bubbling mud puddle for a clue card. Once the task of their choice is completed, the teams head to Matapara Farm and the Roadblock, where a team member must get into a giant, inflatable orb called a “Zorb” and roll down a steep hill. This is a fun one—you can’t see a Zorb and not smile. I’m serious. Once they have zorbed themselves across the finish line, they sprint up a hill and give the awaiting Phil a big ol’ hug. And off we go!
Colin & Christie 2:35 A.M.
I suppose these two get off to a good start, as Colin laughs maniacally in glee upon finding that their next destination is New Zealand. I just can’t really figure these two out. Every week, you think they’re going to reach the critical mass of in-fighting and self-destruct, but they have taken first in six out of nine legs! Some say that some of the best art in the world is born through chaos and tension, but it’s all too much for my addled mind.
The pair hops into a taxicab and heads off to a travel agency to book tickets, as it’s illegal to purchase international flights out of India at the Calcutta airport. They are able to get tickets to Bangkok, but the connecting flight from there to Auckland is unavailable for now, and they must get it at the airport later. Upon arriving at the airport, they find that the ticket counter doesn’t open until 7:00 A.M. Yay for equalizers? To pass the time, Christie reveals that she and Colin have grown in their relationship since the start of the race. This is great, but I know I’m not the only one who’s frightened to imagine what it must have been like before. When opening time rolls around, Colin & Christie get into the room first and get tickets for the fastest flight from Bangkok to Auckland, which arrives at 11:35 A.M.
Colin & Christie arrive in Auckland on-time, and hop into one of the marked cars to drive to Rotorua. They do not get lost on the way and find the Museum of Art and History (and the awaiting Detour clue) easily. They choose “Clean,” because, seriously . . . who wants to dig around in mud? On the way to the sledging-place, Christie realizes that they are going the wrong way, and Colin is incredulous. “Let me see the map!” he demands as he stops at an intersection. Well, sho’ nuff, unless the little “S” and “N” switched themselves just to be sneaky, they are going the wrong way. What happens next is . . . positively . . . shocking. Don’t read on if you have a cardiac disorder. Colin turns around, looks right into Christie’s eyes, and says. . . . “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” That’s right, everyone. Once you peel yourselves up from the floor, mark down this date on your calendar, and fondly remember it.
They arrive at Okere Falls shortly thereafter, which contains the highest drop in the world that you can take on a sledge. What could be a better place to learn, I ask you! They suit up, jump into the stream, and ride the white water. Colin, extreme-sports guy, loves every minute of it, and Christie, who was a bit nervous before, has fun as well. Finally, they come to the highest waterfall at the end of the course. Colin goes first . . . “Wheeeee!” Splash. Christie goes next . . . “Auuuugghhh!” Splash. After several seconds, Christie reappears from under the water, alive and well. The pair then heads off to the Roadblock site, where Colin says he’s ready for the “wild ride.” So, he pumps up the Zorb and rolls down the slope and across the Shire-like countryside. “Will you look at that, Master Frodo!” Colin slides out of the Zorb, much like I entered the world eighteen and a half years ago, and they race up to the mat to meet Phil and his accompanying Maori greeter. They arrive. . . .
Chip & Kim 2:37 A.M.
Chip and Kim are determined to have Colin & Christie self-destruct so that they may take over as the dominating champions. I’m not sure that it will happen, but they are probably the nicest team, so it’s a happy thought. I certainly like this Chip better than last year’s Chip. The couple heads off hot on the heels of Colin & Christie, and they get the same tickets from Calcutta to Bangkok. They then head off to the airport, where they will get the tickets for the second half of the trip.
Now, I have to confess something to you all right now. I don’t like the airport scenes. They are so bloody confusing, with everyone getting tickets for this and trading them for that. So, as I sat down to write this recap, I wondered, “How can I manage a show that opened with twenty minutes of airport mayhem?” Then, I took heart, because . . . who knows? They could have made even more changes that they didn’t show on television. The editing, you know. Isn’t that a clever way for me to deflect blame if I got some of the flight information wrong?
Moving right along . . . Colin and Christie barely edge Chip and Kim out of the ticket room, so Chip and Kim must settle for a later flight, which arrives in Auckland at 11:55 A.M. If you didn’t read the Colin and Christie section already and this just spoiled something for you . . . well . . . shame on you for reading things in a weird out-of-order way. Chip and Kim arrive in Auckland on time and drive out to Rotorua, but Kim has a hard time navigating, and they must stop for directions. Chip asks a roomful of unseen locals, “Do any of you know how to get to Highway One?” They respond with a resounding “No.” How helpful. They finally arrive at the museum with the help of a friendly guy at a gas station, but now find that the twins, Kami and Karli, are right behind them! Chip sprints to the Yield box, digs through the box of pictures, and proclaims, “We choose to yield. . . .” (the twins look sick) “Aw, we would never yield you! We love you too much!” PSYCH! Y’all been zapped!
Everyone is joyous until Chip reaches the clue box and finds that there are only two clues left. Uh-oh. He had counted on there being another team behind him, Kim, and the twins, but apparently not. Because time is of the essence, they choose to do “Clean” and drive off for Okere Falls. They both have great fun (or at least pretend to) with the sledging, and we see lots of screaming, splashing through the rapids shots. Before they reach the high drop, the instructor pulls them aside for some sage advice. “Hold on.” Chip agrees to do so, and over he goes. Ka-sploosh! Kim is next, screaming loudly as she goes over the high fall, and she’s under the water for a looong time when she lands. Is she going to come back up? Why, of course she is. The couple dries off a bit, and they head off to Matapara Farm, where Kim reads the clue: "Who’s ready for a wild ride?" She looks at Chip and answers, "You are.” Chip asks what the wild ride is, and Kim laughingly replies, “It doesn’t matter, ‘cause you’re doing it regardless!” Thus, Chip zorbs down the hill and across the finish line, Kim laughing all the way. I am totally putting “Zorb” on my Christmas list this year. They arrive. . . .
Linda & Karen 3:25 A.M.
I’ll be blunt . . . I’m not a humongous fan of these two. (No, that’s not why their section is shorter.) I’m sure they’re great people, and great bowlers, too, but I just can’t always handle all the screeching, the hyperness, the drama. There’s one thing I can definitely say about them and that is they’re always a rollercoaster in the race. A rollercoaster which, this week, did not get much notable airtime at all.
“The moms,” whose goal for this leg is to finish in the top three, head off in a cab to the travel agency. Linda giddily informs the agent that “they need tickets . . . to NEW ZEALAND!” At least she’s excited, I guess. They head off to the airport and settle for the flight which arrives at 12:20 A.M. They arrive in Auckland, without much ado, and are quite certain that they’re in last place. Finding the marked cars, they hop in and head for Rotorua and the museum, commenting that they’re surprised they haven’t gotten lost yet. You know what that means--they find it without any trouble! They run past the Yield sign and to the clue box, yelling all the while, and opt for the “Clean” task.
They arrive at Okere Falls, where they ask Grant, one of the instructors, if sledging is hard. “It’s . . . difficult,” he replies. They consider pulling a Brandon & Nicole move and doing the other task, but they decide to stick with it, even if it is a little nerve-wracking to have your helmet screwed on your head. Down the raging river they go, screaming wildly as they often do. Karen finds herself out of breath from working so hard and is nervous about the final fall. But not to fear! They receive some Sage Sledging Advice™. “That,” says Mr. Instructor, “is your target,” as he points toward the only conceivable place they could go. They both go over without drowning and race off to the Roadblock, where Karen gets to ride the Zorb. I think they did well this leg! As Linda said, the kids will be proud of them . . . but is it enough? They arrive. . . .
Kami & Karli 4:38 A.M.
Guess what? Twins do not always get along. Guess what else? I can’t really tell these twins apart. Kami and Karli set off for the travel agent, and purchase tickets for one of the later flights, later hoping to do some talkin’ and soon be walkin’ onto an earlier flight. In order to beat the line, Karli (thank goodness for the name banner!) picks up a phone and tries to get tickets that way. Unfortunately, the dial tone is very rude. It doesn’t give her the operator; it doesn’t even say “hello” back. So much for that plan. Once they arrive in Bangkok, they try to lie and say they have reservations on an earlier flight, but the battle-ax attendant won’t have any of that nonsense, either. Yeesh . . . she was right scary. As a last resort, they run to a counter and beg the attendant there to try to upgrade their tickets so they can catch the plane that Chip & Kim and Brandon & Nicole are on. They even fall to their knees and pray . . . and . . . they get it, much to the chagrin of their fellow teams. Huzzah for them!
They arrive in Auckland on time at 11:55 A.M., and race off to Rotorua. Within minutes, Kami and Karli are lost . . . again. They have to stop and ask directions, and eventually arrive at the museum right behind Chip and Kim. Will they be the first Yield victims? Of course not. The Yield is like a spork . . . the idea sounds good on paper, but in reality it’s pretty much worthless. Chip’s generosity is enough to convince the twins to forget about their past run-in and go forth in mutual lurve and admiration. They receive the last clue card in the box, but decide to choose “Dirty.” Why on earth, when in last place, would you choose the slower task, you ask? Because hot mud sounds better than cold water right now, of course.
So, where are we going? To Rivendell, Master Gamgee? Nay, we’re going to Hell’s Gate to dig through the mud. Doesn’t that remind you of that old joke: “Where are we going?” “To hell if we don’t change our ways!” Ha ha ha . . . ? The twins arrive at the mud pit and begin the tedious task of digging through the glop, as we recall how well they did with mud last week. They wonder if Chip and Kim did this task as well, but decide that Kim would give this place the, “Oh, hell no!” They think that it should be pretty easy to find, but it’s not. Finally, Kami/Karli gets lucky and finds the clue, and they head off to Matapara Farm. “Wouldn’t it be funny if we got lost again?” asks . . . um . . . one of them. “Hysterical,” replies the other. I really feel terrible having to do that. One of them needs to dye her hair. They run/roll down the Zorb line, and up to meet Phil. They arrive. . . .
Brandon & Nicole 6:07 A.M.
As I’m sure you remember, these two are here only because they were lucky enough to make all their foolish decisions on last week’s non-elimination leg. Thus, they still have their hair but . . . at what cost? They were stripped of all their cash, and I’m sure Phil had a nice fancy dinner that night. Given their new economic status, they resort to wandering around the memorial and asking random people for money before they head out for this leg. One such encounter is with two older gentlemen who just laugh upon hearing of their plight. They bear an uncanny resemblance to Stadler & Waldorf from “The Muppet Show.” Luckily for them, they also find a few charitable souls. Will they have a prayer of a chance, after all?
The pair heads out to the travel agency, where they are actually able to get tickets booked all the way through to Auckland via Bangkok. So much for that whole early-bird-worm theory. They race over to the airport to make their flight on time (they must be there 3 hours before departure at the minimum), and they do. Nicole heads over to re-check their time of arrival, though Brandon is confident it’s 12:20 A.M. Ha! Nope, it’s 11:55 A.M. “See?” says a triumphant Nikky, “there’s no such thing as a stupid question. Didn’t you go to Pre-K? Kindergarten?” Brandon responds playfully (or is it?) with, “Yeah, and you’d know because you spent four years there.” Nicole then teasingly (or is it?) threatens to backhand him, so he’ll never be able to model again. Well, good to see that they’re having fun and that all is blithe and merry. (Or . . . is it!?)
Our couple arrives in Auckland on time, and they drive off for Rotorua. Unfortunately for them, they cannot read a map and have to ask for directions. They eventually arrive, read the clue, and Brandon becomes protective and fatherly in choosing “Dirty.” “The sledging thing just didn’t sound safe, and I didn’t want Nikky to hit her head on a rock or something.” Suuuuure. That’s why. Now your girlfriend will get all muddy. So, our favorite Christian-dating-models set out for Hell’s Gate to dig through the mud. Brandon thinks it’s gross (“Are you sure this is mud?”), while Nicole thinks it’s “kinda cool.”
Yes, my friends, her enthusiasm wears off quickly.
They dig. And they dig. And they dig some more. Brandon stops digging long enough to fall over in the muck, and then they dig some more. Nicole bemoans their unluckiness. More digging. Brandon decides to send up a prayer before digging some more, and . . . gadzooks . . . he finds the clue! “Thank God . . . literally,” sighs Nicole. Some will say it was God, some will say it was editing. Some, trying to please all, will say it was both. I would just like to believe he stumbled upon it . . . literally. After hosing each other down, they head off to the Zorb, where Brandon gets the honor of rolling down the hill, even though he says he “hates that kind of stuff.” *GASP* Hate a Zorb? You cold-hearted man. He crosses the finish line, and they run up the hill to the mat. They arrive. . . .
Pit Stop at Matapara Farm
In the fashion of Cali, here’s how they arrived, followed by their departure order:
1. Colin and Christie (1)
2. Linda and Karen (3)
3. Brandon and Nicole (5)
4. Chip and Kim (2)
5. Kami and Karli (4)
Yes, the twins have come in last . . . again. Sadly for them, they are not as lucky this time, and they are both eliminated. Congrats for making it this far, Kami and Karli! Colin and Christie, coming in first, win--that’s right--another trip . . . to “romantic Europe.” Be sure to tune in next week with your regularly scheduled recapper, Cali, as Chip confronts his fear of heights and Colin has a cow . . . and hates a cow.
Oh, and what is the moral of the story, you ask? According to Chip and Phil, it’s “Use the Yield!” According to the sledging instructor, it is “Hold on!” According to me, it’s “Don’t try to buy a Zorb, they cost over $7,000!” At least this gives me a good excuse to go to New Zealand.
All my years in show business, and I’ve never seen a crowd like you guys. You may contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or your regular ‘capper at email@example.com.